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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with John Harris, September 5, 2002. Interview R-0185. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Formality in prewar Greensboro

Harris remembers the formality of prewar Greensboro: everyone, white and black, dressed up when they left their homes, even if they did so to head to a local pool hall.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with John Harris, September 5, 2002. Interview R-0185. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

Would you also go up to Market Street?
JOHN HARRIS:
Oh yes.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Because it's really what three blocks.
JOHN HARRIS:
Oh yes. Oh yes. What did they have on Market Street. They had everything on Market Street. Anything and everything that you wanted. It was an exciting place to just go up on Market Street. As a youngster, we used to go, we'd go, you could go to the bakery shop, the bakery because they sold doughnuts and ice cream, Harris Bakery. They, Mr. and Mrs. Harris, we didn't realize, but they were really ahead of their time because they had everything in that little shop. There was the poolrooms. We couldn't go in those, but some of our friends that put up their age, they could slip in now. They were a little more astute than we were. They were a little more grown than we were. But just walking up Market Street was, there were grown men, what you have to understand, and it's easy to understand because in your old pictures that you see of New York City, you see everybody in New York City, old pictures. You see everybody dressed down, suits, ties, hats. Ladies, same thing. They're dressed down, and that was the style. So if you didn't do anything but just go home, take your work clothes off, dress up and just walk up, just walk up on the street, that was good enough. Men used to go to the poolroom and stand around the poolroom. They dressed up to go to the poolroom. I worked in a shoeshine shop. I worked in a shoeshine parlor as a teenager. We would see, I saw all these young black men, old black men, young and old black men. They would all come. They prided themselves in how their shoes, how they dressed, everything had to be just right. They would come up and when they would shoot pool, they would take their coats off, hang them up, and they would shoot pool, but they dressed up to come out. It's not like it is now where jeans, that's what you worked in. I mean, it wasn't just like that in the black community. It was the same way in the white community.